Despicable Me?

Despicable Me

It’s despicable. The ANA’s recent report is about agency “self-dealing” in production bidding. The ANA’s description is incredibly kind. Rigging bids is dishonest, duplicitous, and should be criminal behavior. This agency practice is on top of the lack of transparency and outright fraud in the media buying process that the ANA helped identify a few years ago. Every agency not operating in an impeccable, ethical fashion should be fired – now. There should be no second chances. Getting caught or making restitution doesn’t make for a better business relationship.

Client/agency relationships should be based on trust.

Throughout my career, we have almost always commenced work without a signed contract. Never once have we had a problem getting paid. You almost never do when you do the right thing. And today, many of our client contracts are simple documents, not written by lawyers, because ethical practitioners don’t need to check a contract before they make a decision.

In the past, I ran a major global agency, working for the world’s largest agency / communications’ network. Now I own and run a strategic/creative boutique. We do all our production in-house. Every single outside media and production expense is billed at cost, with appropriate back-up provided. Are we crazy? In a world where those who lie, cheat, and “self-deal” are massively succeeding, are we out of step? I don’t think so. I hold our agency to a higher standard. I will never self-deal because I need to deal with myself. Any behavior less than absolute honesty and integrity is despicable – and that’s not me.

Lawrence M. Kimmel is CEO of Rung-UP, the first agency custom built for C-Level executives at mid-sized organizations. He can be reached at